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Genealogy and Family Trees

Learn From Home Activity

In partnership with East Gwillimbury Public Library

Background Information

Researching family history is easily one of the most exciting projects for museum and library workers. It's even more interesting when it's about your own family. As you gather sources and information related to your ancestors you begin to feel like a detective, uncovering the truth behind old family stories, finding photos and sometimes, making connections with relatives you never knew you had!


The early residents of East Gwillimbury were also interested in genealogy, which is the study of family history. Many of the members of the Children of Peace recorded their lineage and passed along the stories of their ancestors to future generations. 


Individuals like Emily McArthur (1837-1924) and David Graham (1827-1910) were particularly well versed in family research with McArthur being a descendant of both the Willsons and the Doans of Sharon. Graham, meanwhile, recorded family history and community stories in his "Recollections of the Early Settlement of the Township of East Gwillimbury and its Pioneer Inhabitants" from 1908. 

In organizing this program, we wanted to learn more about David Graham. Sarah Harrison, Customer & Community Service Specialist at the East Gwillimbury Public Library used resources like Ancestry Library Edition and Find A Grave to research David Graham and his connections to East Gwillimbury. 


David Graham was born to Jeremiah Graham and Jane Graham (nee Burr) on October 14th, 1827. His father occupied what he called the “Burr Farm” on Queen Street, which is now Leslie Street, in Queensville. Jeremiah had been a member of the Children of Peace for a short time - such a short time that his membership was never captured in any of the census records. Along with his brothers William, Richard and John, he had also participated in the 1837 Rebellion. 


As David got older, he took over the family farm. He married Susan Emily Wardell in about 1850. In David Graham’s writings titled “Recollections of the Early Settlement of East Gwillimbury and its Pioneer Inhabitants” (1908), he notes that they had a total of ten children together - five sons and five daughters. However, in the 1871 Census, there are only nine children recorded living in their house. These children are:

  • Mary Jane Graham (b. 1852);

  • Lavinia Graham (b. 1854);

  • Jeremiah Graham (b. 1856);

  • Alberta Graham (b. 1859);

  • William Graham (b. 1862)

  • Emmerson Graham (b. 1864)

  • Seward Lincoln Graham (b. 1866)

  • Herbert Graham (b. 1868)

  • Annetta Graham (b. 1869)*

*These dates of birth for the Graham children are approximate, and may not necessarily be accurate. 

The 1861 Census lists an additional daughter with an illegible name who would have been born in or around 1857, between Jeremiah and Alberta. It appears that she did not survive and died prior to the 1871 Census. 

In about 1867, David Graham moved his family up to a farm near Sutton, and purchased some property in North Gwillimbury on Concession 7, Lot 20. He must have been a prosperous farmer, since he seems to have acquired a lot of land around North Gwillimbury after this time. He died in North Gwillimbury on May 10th, 1910, due to a combination of “heart disease and old age” according to his death certificate. He is buried in the Queensville Cemetery, along with his father, wife and three of their children.


Do you want to see how Sarah uncovered these connections? Stay tuned for the Ancestry Library Edition video on EGPL's Facebook page, live at 4:30 pm on Tuesday, April 28th.


Parents can use these tips and tricks to research their own family history - Ancestry Library Edition is free to use from home with an East Gwillimbury Public Library card! Don't have a card? You can register for an eLibrary Card online.


Curriculum Connections

Social Studies - Grade 1: Strand A. Heritage and Identity: Our Changing Roles and Responsibilities (A1.2, A1.3, A2.1, A2.2, A2.5, A3.1, A3.2)

Social Studies - Grade 2: Strand A. Heritage and Identity: Changing Family and Community Traditions (A2.1, A2.2, A3.1, A3.5, A3.7)

Social Studies - Grade 6: Strand A. Heritage and Identity: Communities in Canada, Past and Present (A2.2, A3.9)

Language - Grade 1: Oral Communication (1.2, 2.2); Media Literacy (1.1, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4)

Language - Grade 2: Oral Communication (1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2); Media Literacy (1.1, 3.1, 3.2, 3.4)

Language - Grade 3: Oral Communication (1.2, 2.1); Media Literacy (1.1, 3.1, 3.2, 3.4)

Language - Grade 4: Oral Communication (1.2, 2.1); Media Literacy (1.1, 1.5, 1.6, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 4.2)

Language - Grade 5: Oral Communication (1.2, 2.1); Writing (1.3); Media Literacy (1.1, 1.5, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 4.2)

Language - Grade 6: Oral Communication (1.2, 2.1); Writing (1.3); Media Literacy (1.1, 1.5, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 4.2)


Family Interview

During this time it's important to stay connected while staying apart. It's also the perfect time to spend time learning about some of your family members. Consider using the phone to call, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype or use your other favourite video calling service to contact a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or anyone who you would like to know more about. Ask them to participate in an interview so you can record their history and experiences! Use the list of questions below as prompts, or create your own. 

- What is your first memory?

- What were the names of your parents and grandparents?

- Can you tell me about where your family originated?

- Who is the oldest relative you remember and what do you remember about them?

- How did your parents meet?

- Tell me about your childhood home.

- How did your family celebrate holidays when you were a child?

- How did you meet your spouse?

- Tell me about your wedding day.

- Tell me about the day your first child was born.

- What were your favourite school subjects?

- Tell me about your favorite teacher.

- Tell me about some of your friends.

- What was your first job?

Library Resource

Want to go one step further and learn even more about genealogy? Visit the East Gwillimbury Public Library website and follow these easy steps:

1. Sign in to your East Gwillimbury Public Library account.

2. Click on the "Digital Library" tab.

3. Scroll down until you find the "National Geographic Kids" resource and click it.

4. On National Geographic Kids search "Genealogy". 

5. Click on the first result: "Guide to Genealogy: Tips & Tricks on How to Uncover Your Roots and Build Your Family Tree!" by T.J. Resler (2018) to find helpful information to learn even more about the ancestors in your family tree.

Family Tree Activity

Using the information you have gathered download and fill in the family tree template below. Be sure to share your research with us using the hashtag #STLearnFromHome and by tagging @SharonTempleNHS and @eg_public_library on social media. 

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